An RC car consists of several plastic parts with various functionalities. Therefore, the designer should consider operating conditions for the RC car and select the perfect filament material. There are also other factors and limits to consider when choosing the best filament for this case.
Most people ride their RC car on outdoor paths. The model car should withstand collisions, UV rays, external forces, and sometimes hot or rainy weather in such cases.
Also, each part should endure different levels of these dangers. For example, bumpers have to resist impacts. Tires should be flexible. The mainframe should bear direct UV light.
Other important factors for the filament selection process are practical limitations. Some filaments are hard or impossible to print with desktop 3D printers. Here the main idea is to discuss the most common options.
In this post, we are going to find out the best filament for different RC car parts, learn about their main features, and introduce the best brand for the named situations.
If you are in a hurry, the best filaments for RC car parts are:
Now, let’s get right into each option.
ABS, after PLA, is the most common 3D printer filament material in the 3D printing industry. Despite PLA, it’s slightly more resistant to hot temperatures. It’s even available at low prices. Also, ABS has greater strength, durability, and rigidity.
Due to these features, ABS is vastly used in most plastic consumer goods, container cases, and manufacturing households, such as popular fidget spinners, Lego bricks, etc.
However, these feature come at the price of difficulty to print though. ABS tends to warp and change its shape due to significant temperature changes in the printing process. Printing ABS can produce intense smelly fumes, so it’s best to print it in a well-ventilated environment or outdoor.
ABS is moderately harder to print than PLA, though, after some calibration, most 3D printers can produce acceptable results.
Where should I use it?
ABS can be used in the mainframe or internal function parts of the RC car. The reason is that it’s rigid and can endure reasonable impacts. Though, It’s not great at UV resistance, and in the long run, it may become brittle or change color under direct sunlight.
ABS main printing settings:
|Nozzle Temperature||220 – 250 o C|
|Bed Temperature||90 – 115o C|
|Build surface||Blue painter’s tape, ABS Slurry, BuildTak, etc.|
|Recommended Print Speed||40 – 60 mm/s|
|Retraction Distance||0.5 – 1.0 mm|
Best ABS brands to use:
There are various grades and brands of ABS filament in the market, and each one has unique features in terms of design or usage. A suitable filament should have minimum warpage and provide acceptable layer adhesion, strength, heat resistance, and surface finish.
Cheap and low-quality filaments can clog the printer’s nozzle, fail the print, or affect the print’s quality due to uneven filament thickness and impurities. So, it’s essential to use the best accessible brands.
MakerBot ABS Filament:
If you have a 3D printer from the MakerBot, the n look no further than the company’s filaments. MakerBot 3D printers are optimized to use their filaments. Yet, The MakerBot ABS filaments can be printed with third party printers.
The MakerBot filaments are specially designed for mechanical and functional parts. So, if you want to make a print that includes pins or internal moving parts for your RC car, it’s an optimal choice.
The MakerBot filament also has other features of a suitable ABS filament. For example:
- Smooth finish
- Heat resistance
- Easiness of post-processing
- Perfect hardness
- Layer adhesion
The best properties come at a price, though. The cost for a spool of MakerBot ABS filament is around $70. It’s somewhat pricy!
Hatchbox ABS Filament
Hatchbox is not among famous filament brands though this Chinese brand provides an affordable option for the price it takes. The average price of a 1 kg spool of Hatchbox ABS filament is around $25.
ON the other hand, the value and quality it provides are equal to most higher-priced brands. This product also has many positive reviews on Amazon, and it’s now becoming a well-known filament brand among users.
Hatchbox ABS filament needs higher temperatures to fuse. This feature results in outstanding toughness and durability for the material. So this brand can provide mostly great features of a suitable filament with around half the price, which makes it remarkable.
Previously we checked ABS, which had some issues for outdoor use, and that the reason manufacturers bring alternative materials. Nowadays, ASA is a well-known alternative in various industries. ASA is developed to oppose harsh environments.
ASA’s primary use is in the automotive industry, so it’s the godsend material we want for RC car parts!
In comparison with ABS, ASA has similar mechanical properties. It’s rigid, strict, and easier to print than ABS. The best advantage of ASA over ABS is its excellent resistance to heat, UV light, and chemical exposure. ASA also warps less than ABS, which helps the print to keep its desired shape.
On the other hand, ASA tends to crack if you use cooling fans or print in a windy space. It best way to print ASA is to do it under the enclosure and adjacent cooling power.
Where should I use it?
ASA is a perfect material for the functional parts. It can be used for the main body, which is exposed to heat and UV light. If the big companies and automative manufacturers pick ASA for their cars, why don’t we use it for our RC cars!
ASA main printing settings:
|Nozzle Temperature||220 – 245 o C|
|Bed Temperature||90 – 110o C|
|Build surface||Kapton tape, PET sheet, BuildTak, etc.|
|Recommended Print Speed||50 – 90 mm/s|
|Retraction Distance||1 – 3 mm|
Bese ASA brands to use:
ASA is the perfect filament material for outdoor use. However, it’s still not as popular as PLA or ABS. There are fewer ASA manufacturers, and many don’t provide color variety, or their products are too expensive. A few ASA brands provide high-quality filaments with different colors.
FilamentOne ASA filament
FilamentOne is one of the pioneer brands in 3D printing technology that provides different filaments and 3D printer accessories at fair prices.
The FilamentOne ASA filament provides a tight tolerance of 0.02mm, which is more than enough for RC car parts.
The company claims the filament has a strong layer to layer adhesion and subtle surface details. The price for a 1 kg spool of FilamentOne ASA filament is around $35. The filament is available in different colors and diameters.
By writing this article, blue, white, gray, iron-gray, black, and red are available colors for the filaments.
Another excellent brand of ASA filaments is PolyLite ASA. First of all, This company provides detailed information about its products and how to use them. PolyLite ASA has a glass transition temperature of 97.8o C and also a low tolerance of 0.03mm.
PolyLite ASA should be dried before use. The manufacturer recommends drying the filament at 80o C for eight hours. It’s also advised to use a BuildTak surface to minimize warping.
PolyLite ASA filament comes in two colors of black and white. The average price for a 1kg filament is around $30.
Nylon is a broad branch of synthetic polymers. As a general rule, Nylon filaments are robust, resilient, and slightly flexible. They are usually more flexible than ABS or ASA filaments and won’t easily break.
However, nylon is so hygroscopic, which means it tends to absorb moisture and become brittle over time. It’s necessary to dry nylon filaments before the printing process.
When it comes to nylon filaments, there are many manufacturers with various products with a wide range of properties. For example, strength, flexibility, and required print temperature may change from one filament brand to another.
If you want to create a custom gearbox for your RC car, then nylon also is the right choice for creating gears.
Where should I use it?
Nylon filaments are uncommon material because their glass transition temperature is much lower than their heat deflection temperature. Therefore, nylon doesn’t act like a rigid plastic. It’s more like a firm rubber.
This feature makes nylon an ideal material for the parts exposed to impacts and external forces. For example, you can separate bumpers or fenders with nylon.
Best nylon brands to use:
Nylon filaments are more common than ASA filaments, and different companies produce nylon filaments. So you can pick the best brand and color for your specific projects.
PA Neat is a nylon filament from ColorFabb company. This filament is designed to resist high temperatures (around 120o C) while keeping its properties. It’s also durable, stiff, and has more tensile strength compared with other ones.
You can find recommended print settings for PA Neat in the below table or check its price here.
|Printer settings of PA Neat|
|Printer nozzle temperature||265 – 290o C|
|Heated bed temperature||40 – 50o C for high infill prints|
|Print speed||30 – 40 mm/s|
|Adhesion||buildTak, Glass plate|
|Active cooling fan||50%|
NylonX from MatterHackers is another option for high-quality printing prints. Micro carbon fibers reinforce this filament to achieve the stiffness of carbon. The company claims NaylonX is optimized for impact resistance and stiffness.
Carbon particles add some rigidity to NylonX and reduce warping, so it’s somewhat easier to print. The abrasive nature of carbon can wear out brass nozzles, though. Consider using a steel or hardened nozzle if you want to print this material.
You can check recommended printing settings for NylonX in the below table or click here for more information.
|Printer settings of NylonX|
|Extruder temperature||250 – 265o C|
|Heated bed temperature||60 – 70o C|
|Print speed||10 – 80 mm/s|
|Adhesion||PVA with a glue stick|
|Nozzle||Stainless steel or hardened nozzles|
Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU) is a flexible, soft, and wear resistance filament developed for industrial and consumer applications. The flexibility level can vary between different grades and brands though it’s much more flexible than other common filament materials.
TPU filaments are perfect impact absorbers and can withstand high temperatures up to 80o C. It’s resistant to most chemicals and is an acceptable material for outdoor projects.
The filament’s resistance to abrasion, wearing, and chemicals have a wide range of uses in the aerospace and automotive industries.
The flexibility of this material can be different for each filament brand. However, you can adjust your prints’ flexibility by changing the percentage of infill in your print settings. A lower level of infill results in higher flexibility for the printed piece.
Printing TPU doesn’t require specific setups or high temperature though it’s harder to print with Bowden tube extruder types. This material barely warps, and thermic shocks can’t usually affect the print.
On the other hand, TPU filament, due to its elasticity, tends to string and affect the surface quality more than the others. It may take several attempts to reach an excellent quality print.
In which part should I use it?
To this point, you know that TPU is a flexible filament material. It’s probably too flexible to do well as a functional material. Also, it may not be suitable for the mainframe.
However, there are specific parts that need to be perfect impact absorbers or super wear resistance. For example, you can create TPU bumpers for your RC car or make custom tires out of TPU!
Best TPU brands to use:
There are many TPU manufacturers in the market which produce different varieties of TPU filaments. So you can easily find the best option for specific flexibility and color that fulfills your desire.
This one from NinjaTek is probably the most popular TPU filament among users. Specific features like extreme flexibility, printability, and durability make it stand out from competitors.
The company provides TPU filaments in different colors like black, gray, red, orange, green, blue, and yellow.
NinjaFlex printing settings:
|Nozzle Temperature||225 – 235 o C|
|Bed Temperature||Up to 40o C|
|Build surface||Kapton tape, PET sheet, BuildTak, etc.|
|Recommended Print Speed||15 – 35 mm/s|
|Retraction Distance||1 – 9 mm based on the extruder type|
SainSmart TPU filament
SainSmart’s TPU filament is one of the less known options in the market though it offers more than it provides. This filament is less flexible compared to Ninjaflex and offers excellent strength and print quality. You can buy a spool of this filament for around $35, which is considerably cheaper.
The SainSmart’s TPU filament is available in sixteen different colors. For more information, you can check SainSmart’s website.